SANTA CLARA, Calif. – In the midst of a four-game home stand, Santa Clara women's basketball topped Portland by a final of 69-62. The win puts the Broncos at 7-10 overall and 3-3 in WCC action while the Pilots are now 9-8 overall and 2-4 in conference play.
Santa Clara returns to the floor Sun., Jan. 19 at 2 p.m. vs. No. 23 Gonzaga in the final game of a four-game home stand.
"I thought our defensive intensity early on was exactly what we wanted and we took them out of what they wanted to do," said Santa Clara head coach Jennifer Mountain. "Collectively we did a great job of communicating and hopefully we learn from this that you have to play two halves. This game was really a tale of two halves. When you get a big lead it's hard to keep that intensity and we talked about that halftime. Fortunately we were able to hang on but we have to do a better job of competing for 40 minutes."
Santa Clara shot 44.9% (22-49) from the field and 41.7% (5-12) from three. The Broncos had 41 rebounds, 17 assists, 27 turnovers, one block, and 12 steals. Nici Gilday led the offense with 19 points on 9-10 shooting from the free throw line with five assists. Ruta Zurauskyte added 14 points and six rebounds while Ricki Radanovich had 13 points and five boards.
Portland shot 33.9% (21-62) from the field and 29.6% (8-27) from three. The Pilots had 34 rebounds, 11 assists, 20 turnovers, five blocks, and 20 steals. Amy Pupa led the offense with 16 and 10 rebounds with three steals. Jasmine Wooton scored 12 points on 4-9 shooting while Cassandra Thompson scored 10 points to go with seven rebounds and four steals.
The Pilots scored first but Zurauskyte came back with four consecutive points to give the Broncos their first lead. Santa Clara would go on a 8-0 run over 2:59 to make it an 8-2 Bronco lead. Portland was 0-3 from the field during the stretch. Cassandra Brown hit a three to end the run and cut the Santa Clara lead in half but Gilday answered right back with a three on the ensuing possession.
Radanovich made a nice steal on a pass with the shot clock winding down and finished with an easy layup to make the score 15-5 at the 11:53 mark. The Broncos would go on a 12-0 run over 4:16 while holding the Pilots to 0-4 from the field and forcing nine turnovers. Radanovich capped the run with a deep three at 10:22. The run ended when Wooton made a jumper at 10:02 that made the score 20-7.
Radanovich nailed a three in transition at 5:59 to put the broncos on an 8-0 run over one and a half minutes that made the score 32-9. Portland was 0-4 from the field over the stretch and called a timeout to regroup. A free throw by Brown at the 4:49 mark ended the Santa Clara run and finally put Portland into double-figures.
Santa Clara came right back with a 6-0 run, including another deep three from Radanovich, over a minute. Pupa made a layup to end the run but the score was now 40-12 Santa Clara.
After a free throw from Brown, Santa Clara held on for the final shot of the first half but couldn't convert. The teams went into the locker room with the Broncos on top 40-13.
Santa Clara shot 52.0% (13-25) from the field and 66.7% (4-6) from three in the first half. The Broncos had 22 rebounds, 10 assists, 12 turnovers, and eight steals. Radanovich led the offense with 13 points on 3-5 from beyond the arc and four rebounds. Gilday scored 10 points on 5-6 from the free throw line while Raquel Avila had six assists and four steals.
Portland shot 16.7% (4-24) from the field and 12.5% (1-8) from three in the first half. The Pilots had 14 rebounds, two assists, 14 turnovers, three blocks, and seven steals. Brown led the offense with five points and two rebounds. Pupa scored four points while Alexis Byrd had three steals.
Wooton hit a three on the first Portland possession of the second half to make the score 40-15. Santa Clara was able to continue to grow its lead and two free throws by Marie Bertholdt at 17:04 made the score 48-20.
After Berthold converted a three-point play, Radanovich launched a three that was off the mark but the rebound went directly to Zurauskyte who put it back in to make it 53-27 with 13:37 on the clock. The Pilots scored five quick points on a pair of free throws from Pupa and a three from Hannah Mattson to get the Bronco lead down to 23 points.
The offensive onslaught continued as Santa Clara went on a 9-0 run over 2:22 to go on top by 30 for the first time and make it a 62-30 game. Gilday highlighted the run with a three from the right elbow at 10:11 Portland was 0-5 from the field during the Bronco run. Pupa hit a deep jumper from the right corner at 9:20 to get Portland back on the board.
Portland went on an 24-1 run over 7:43 to get the deficit down to single digits while Santa Clara was 0-8 from the field with 11 turnovers. Thompson hit a pair of threes to lead the run and Portland was 5-6 from the free throw line.
Gilday went to the line and hit two free throws but Wooton answered with a three on the other end to make it 65-57. Thompson drove to the lane on the next possession and made a layup with 33.1 on the clock.
After a timeout by Portland to set up its defense, Santa Clara made its first field goal in nearly 10 minutes and Gilday followed with two free throws. Wooton made a three and Radanovich missed free throws but Santa Clara held on for the win.
Game Notes: Attendance was 243 … Santa Clara didn't make its first substitution until 12:48 in the first half.